The drive to be unnaturally thin is not limited to models. Denyse O’Leary shares that in 2006 the Tenth International Congress on Obesity was told that girls no older than five now fret over baby fat. “More than half of girls begin dieting before age 14, and they tell surveyors that they fear fat more than cancer. Ironically, eating disorders spurred by fear of fat are a preventable, serious health risk for their age group.”
Part of the problem is that cultural influences actually rewire the neurocircuitry of our brains, subtly orienting us to consider certain things (such as being unnaturally thin) to be attractive, which past ages would have considered off-putting. This is a topic I touched briefly on in a feature for Salvo 19, and which I will be revisiting in a feature for the forthcoming Salvo 21. In the former article I pointed out that any civilization that thinks high-healed shoes on a woman is sexy but body hair is not, is a society in which the people have been subject to considerable neuroplastic changes to their brains.
Don’t be sacred off by the big words. Neuroplasticity simply refers to the way the human brain is in a constant state of flux, being remarkably adaptable and constantly adjusting itself to the demands of one’s environment. This can be a good thing, because it enables people to learn new skills, for stroke victims to recover function and for blind people to compensate for their loss by strengthening a part of the brain associated with other senses. But neuroplasticity also has a darker side, and we see this in the widespread assumption that the more thin a woman is the more attractive she is. If one reads novels from the Victorian era and earlier, we see that this assumption is a complete historical anomaly. It used to be that an unnaturally thin woman was not considered pretty.
This fixation in our society with being thin unfortunately leads people to avoid fatty foods, foods which are necessary for health and well being. In an article I wrote earlier in the year, ‘Debunking 4 Health Food Myths‘, I pointed out that a low-fat diet does not equal a healthy diet, despite what commercials and advertisers try to make us think. In fact, given the ingredients that typically go into low-fat products, the reverse is most often the case.
There is a reason that God designed human beings to crave fatty foods. The reason is simple: fat is good for us.